Guest Post by Joy Jones, author of Fearless Public Speaking

Fearless Public SpeakingAren’t you lucky? You’re the writer who has been invited to speak at a conference, participate on a panel, or chosen to deliver a keynote. Such a perfect opportunity to promote your work and display your knowledge.

Are you petrified and terrified at the prospect of speaking in public?

You don’t have to feel that way.

Here are 8 tips to help you up your game.

1. Read up. Read and reread your notes to make sure you know your material. Don’t try to memorize. Instead, familiarize yourself with the material thoroughly, so that you feel at home with it. And when you read, make sure you read it aloud. Hearing it gives you a clearer sense of what works. Several re-readings will help ground your ideas in your mind. Knowing that you know what you know is a big confidence booster.

Think up some questions. Anticipate what people in the audience are likely to ask, and plan your answers. Preparation is a great antidote for nervousness.

2. Suit up. Try on what you plan to wear at your speaking engagement. You want a comfortable outfit, so you’re not in distress over a belt that’s too tight or heels that are too high when you should be concentrating on your speech. (Yes, this also applies to men.)

Make sure your outfit matches the occasion. Not sure? Ask the coordinator of the event what the expectation is. If in doubt, it’s usually less embarrassing to be overdressed than underdressed.

3. Fill up your lungs with oxygen. Deep breathing is the source of serenity and energy. Smooth consistent breaths provide the flow that will channel that nervous excitement you feel. And that nervous excitement is the fuel for the great delivery you’re going to give.

4. Punch up your remarks. Compose a memorable phrase or two that your listeners can take away with them. Can’t think of anything original? Then put a twist on someone else’s quote. You’ve probably heard this one: “So many books, so little time.” Here’s a twist that I like: “So many cookies, so little time.”

Now you try it:

Original: Laughter is the best medicine.

Twist: ____________ is the best medicine.

5. Chat up the audience. Don’t think of your speech as formal oration. Treat it as a personal conversation … just held with a lot people at the same time. Audience members are strangers, but they’re sympathetic strangers. Public speaking scares them, too. They’re rooting for you to succeed. (Spoiler alert: You will succeed.)

6. Speak up. Some people resist using the microphone. The tendency is to start off talking loudly, then lapsing into an ordinary sound level once you get going. Make it easy for us to pay attention. Use the microphone.

7. Listen up. When you’re not the speaker, be a good listener. Listen with your eyes, as well as your ears, since only 7% of any communication is with the words alone. Take notes. When you attentively observe another speaker, you get real-world ideas on what works well. Plus, if you’re thoughtful and respectful when someone else is front-and-center, you generate good karma for when it’s your turn at the mic.

8. Live it up. Speaking – and sharing your thoughts and ideas – is a good thing. Public speaking isn’t a public enemy. Actually, it’s more of a professional friend. It can get you noticed by the right people, improve your poise, showcase your skills, sell your books. Enjoy the experience!

Now, show up and shine the next time you’re asked to speak.

* * *

Joy Jones is a playwright, popular speaker and the author of several books including the acclaimed picture book, Tambourine Moon, and her latest book for teens, Fearless Public Speaking. She posts interviews with artists of all types about their creative process on Instagram. Check it out at #joyjones1433.

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